Future of Coal Focus of Opening Talk

Event attendees open boxes to reveal they've been gifted with videos. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Event attendees open boxes to reveal they've been gifted with videos. (Photo by Pat Blair)

When the average man on the street thinks of coal, he thinks of power plants.

That's what Randall Atkins, chairman and CEO of Ramaco Carbon, told his audience Wednesday morning at the start of the Ramaco Research Rodeo in Sheridan this week.

Atkins said his company is working to change that image, and develop ways to use coal other than the traditional method of burning coal to create power. He said Ramaco Carbon is looking at three broad product areas for coal: to convert coal to chemicals, coal to carbon fiber and coal to building materials.

Atkins said coal can be used to manufacture materials that are stronger, lighter and cheaper than existing materials. He said carbon fiber can be used to replace steel and aluminum in, for example, building cars, and coal can be used to building products such as rebars and asphalt-based roof shingles.

Currently, Atkins said, 95 percent of coal worldwide is used to create power. But, he said, Ramaco Carbon is looking at coal differently.

Atkins said Ramaco Carbon is the only strategic industry group that is basically creating a platform that combines the resource, the research and manufacturing. He said the facilities, all north of Sheridan, include the Brook Mine, a research park which is called iCAM, and a 100-plus acre industrial park where plans are to convert coal into carbon that will be used to create other products.

He said plans are to break ground for the iCAM by the end of the summer, and the first buildings should be constructed by this time next year.

The Ramaco event continues Thursday.

View more photos below.

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Ramaco CEO Randall Atkins. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Ramaco CEO Randall Atkins. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Members of the first panel of the day take their seats. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Members of the first panel of the day take their seats. (Photo by Pat Blair)
SheridanWyoming.com

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